The climate of Yucatan is ferocious, all the more so if you live in northern climates. Even persons from Texas on the program have remarked on how the heat can be quite harsh. If possible you should consider living without air conditioning
(AC) for at least a month before arrival. If you do not begin to acclimatize to the heat and sun, you
will most likely become incapacited for the first week or two of the
field school-- this is especially true if the program starts in July after having become accustomed to summer heat and AC. Programs that start in Maya arrive just after or still during the very hottest and driest period of the year -- temperatures sometimes are as high as 40 celsius.
You must learn to live without AC in order to remain
healthy, active, energized, mentally alert, and productive while in
the field. This is a serious preparation that can be supplemented
with mid-day exercises when the heat/sun is at its most intense and
or daily or other frequent saunas or engage in frequent activities
in similar conditions. Marie from Texas once suggested a regimen of using a blow drier on your face for 20 minutes every morning! While we do not endorse this habit, please: Do not use the AC, especially at night, before coming to Yucatan. Do not take this
The weather in Yucatán is HUMID and usually ranges 90-100 degrees
F, yet at night the temperature can drop substantially. This change
can feel quite dramatic especially if one spends quite a bit of time
in the sun during the day. Cancun has many U.S. brand name stores
with high quality but less expensive items for both males and female.
Thus you may want to shop there for some items; Pisté has a
great variety of t-shirts that can be cheaply purchased.
JANUARY and FEBRUARY can be COLD.
The temperature is not that cold, however the humidity makes the low
temperatures quite fierce. Rains will also cause deep chills. Thus,
bring fleece or synthetic shirts that can keep you warm during the
nights. Sleeping in hammocks also makes the winter cold all that much
APRIL and MAY are the hottest months
of the year. And DRY! Unlike the summer humidity, this heat is dry
well, according to Yucatec standards. At least all the mosquitoes
are killed because the heat and the burning of the fields.
JUNE, JULY, AUGUST are very hot months
but also very humid. For some, particularly those who dont sweat or don't like to sweat, humid heat seems much more intense and even hotter than dry heat. Yucatan is not actually the hottest region of Mexico, Monterrey is the hottest. The difference is similar to steam sauna versus dry sauna. Your clothing choices should be made on the basis of this climate. Note further, the summer is humid because it is the rainy season! However, the tropical thunderstorms and rains are condensed to relatively brief periods of the day -- up to 20 minutes or so -- and are not at all like a rainy Seattle day that is non-stop drizzling alternating with downpours.
REMEMBER: The sun is VERY hot there
and is much closer, thus its effects are much more immediate and intense!!!
Thus, you may consider bringing a hat and/or clothing that provides
extra protection from the sun.
What to Pack
- SPORTS / skirts / summer dresses.
- T-SHIRTS / loose blouses / tank tops
- Comfortable yet durable walking shoes, tennis shoes and or sandals.
(tough/cheap flipflops can be bought in Pisté or Cancun.)
Think of these as expendable items that will get destroyed and perhaps
left behind to leave room in your luggage upon return.
- Long comfortable pants: bring both
a light pair to wear during the day in the city if there is any
plans on being indoors or going out at night, and two light yet
DURABLE pairs (such as jeans) for everyday use.
- A loose, long-sleeve t-shirt, loose longjohns/underwear and or
LIGHT pajamas to avoid misquitos. Something to cover up yet light
enough to endure the HEAT inside the house.
- A light jacket, sweater, pullover or similar for very cool nights
(for winter and fall; not summer), traveling and after the beach
warmth. At night the weather drops 20-30 degrees sometimes. Thus
even if the temperature is 60-70 degrees, one acclimatizes to 105
degrees during the day and thus will react to this drop as uncomfortable
cold. This is especially true in June before it gets really hot
and in early August when the rains cool down and everyone in town
gets SICK from the weather change. This is the period of time of
colds and flus (the canicula) bring your echineaca, vitamin C and
- Light rain apparel or wind breaker for tropical rain storms/showers
might be suggested according to personal preferences. Summer rain
storms are quick and furious and are generally endured indoors until
they pass; in other words, some might not ever want to use rain
- SPORTS APPAREL: bring sports shorts,
shirts, t-shirts and tank tops, shoes, socks, etc. so as to participate
in volleyball, basketball, futbol, running as you wish.
- CAVE EXPLORATION: you may be invited to go explore a cave or cenote,
or hike deep into the jungle forest so bring appropriate items for
such activities. Strong recreational sandals are recommended for
- Bathing and beach apparel. Bring towels: one for beach, 1-2 for
everyday use, a washcloth, etc. as needed.
- CHURCH: you should also bring some clothing that is to be kept
clean and nice for special occasions, such as church or a special
dinner/event. NOTHING excessively formal nor elegant; rather, something
just presentably clean, dressed-up casual is sufficient.
- Long sleeve shirt for the evenings and/or more formal situations
in Cancun & Mérida (nightlife if you're into it).
- Remember that clothes washing is done by
HAND with a SCRUB on a ROCK SURFACE that will quickly destroy
delicate fabrics. You will want to handwash your own undergarments
and other delicate items.